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Platform

Xbox 360

 

Genre

Fighting

 

Publisher

Electronic Arts

 

Developer

EA Canada

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

March 1, 2011

 

 

- Surprisingly excellent Champion single-player story mode
- Addictive Legacy mode
- Acclaimed boxing physics engine and gameplay from Fight Night 4 are refined to an even more impressive level

 

 

- Some of the Champion mode fights take a frustratingly huge amount of rematches to finally win, especially the extremely difficult Frost championship battle
- Were the directors from all the Rocky movies part of the development house? Despite landing what appears to be devastating punch after devastating punch, opponents inexplicably keep on their feet and their backs off the canvas

 

 

Review: Fight Night Round 4 (360)

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Review: Def Jam Icon (360)

 

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Fight Night Champion

Score: 9.0 / 10

 

fight night champion          fight night champion

 

After reaching round four with its Fight Night franchise, Electronic Arts decided it needed to go back into the development gym and reinvigorate the best boxing game around. What emerged was Fight Night Champion, which brought something completely new to the gameplay ring for Fight Night: a single-player story mode. And that surprisingly excellent mode, along with the stellar Legacy mode and refinement of the acclaimed boxing physics engine and gameplay from Fight Night 4, are what make Fight Night Champion the king of the ring.

As one might expect, returning are the superior features that have made the preceding Fight Night titles so popular with gamers, particularly the awesome

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boxing physics engine that has each boxer move, defend and throw punches smoothly and reflexively to the exact desires of the gamer controlling the boxer. There’s also the standard collection of classic boxers from the history of pugilistic greats, both from the long-ago past and present throughout all weight classes. Online play is a perfect chance for gamers to test out their boxing skills they’ve learned offline against

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others.

Legacy mode allows gamers to enjoy the as-always gold standard of sports gaming franchise-style mode that EA provides in each and every one of its sports titles. Beginning at the lowest ranks, gamers choose and customize a boxer, and through a schedule, train with mini-games to build their boxing and athletic skills then fight as they work their way up the ranks in the quest to become a boxing legend. Legacy mode is addicting, and gamers must really prepare their boxers well to become that true champion, although the early bouts they will have are ridiculously easy, most not even lasting past the midway point of the first round. But the difficulty increases as the better AI boxers square off against gamers.

All of the offerings are basically standard issue for Fight Night veterans. That is, except for the brand-new single-player Champion mode. As this is a sports title, I wasn’t expecting much more than an afterthought story, more meant for EA to proclaim something new to its Fight Night franchise than anything else. But I was completely shocked that the story, script and dialogue, voice-acting and the many unexpected challenges that gamers face in the Champion mode was much, much better than anticipated – on the same level of excellence as the last two recent Rockstar Games classics in the sandbox genre: Red Dead Redemption and Grand Theft Auto IV.

Being a born-and-raised Philadelphian, I’ve always had a affection for the Rocky movies, set in the City of Brotherly Love. Fight Night Champion gives us another Philly boxing tale, following the exploits of a championship-striving young boxer, Andre Bishop. The story follows Bishop from his early beginnings, to his dealings with the corrupt boxing promoter that has him set up and sent to the slammer, to his anything-goes prison fights, to his “comeback” that includes conflicts with the same promoter and his younger boxing brother, to his redemption against the game’s hard-core bad guy, champion Isaac Frost.

 

fight night champion          fight night champion

 

Voice-acting is very good, and the cut-scenes are superbly directed. Right from the start, gamers – or gamers’ ears, more to the point – will realize they’ve just begun playing the first M-rated EA Sports title. Thankfully, the F-bombs and the other cussing isn’t used gratuitously, instead fitting perfectly in the Hollywood-worthy script that brings a rough storytelling edge that one might realistically expect from a quality boxing movie that has as its various settings a inner-city boxing gym and prison.

Instead of just being a beat-one-guy-then-move-on-to-the-next undertaking, Fight Night Champion throws some unexpected haymakers at gamers. In one match, Bishop breaks his right hand in the first round. He must finish the bout utilizing nothing but his left hand. In other matches, only knockouts with a particular punch will win the fight. All fights, including even just the sparring matches, are very challenging, although some are too challenging. Gamers will get frustrated having to restart certain bouts what could be literally dozens of times just to win them and move on. The championship bout against Frost is aggravatingly difficult.

Things can get really infuriating when gamers unload a barrage of seemingly brain-damaging – and knockout-inducing punches to the head of an opponent only for them to keep on their feet, seemingly feeling no ill effects from their head and face being bashed in. On this point, gamers will swear the Rocky movie directors were hired at EA to direct the fight scenes – anybody that’s seen a Rocky movie, any Rocky movie, will know how ridiculous some of those fight sequences were. Despite being thrilling slugfests for moviegoers, there’s no way Rocky or any of his many opponents could, in a real fight, ever survive the hits that land on them as long as they do in the movies.

With a great new single-player mode, the addictive and engrossing Legacy gameplay, online Xbox Live matches, the usual collection of boxing’s best fighters in history and the further enhancement of great gameplay and boxing physics, Fight Night Champion packs a punch of excellence as an undisputed champion of gaming greatness.

- Lee Cieniawa
lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(April 28, 2011)

 

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